The Following was my first attempt at educating the general martial arts public as to Dim Mak. before this, I would only ever teach my most advanced students.
Different styles, different attitudes from different countries. All have their different opinions about aspects of the fighting arts; however, one item over the years has caused more arguments and discussion than any other. The secret technique of 'DEATH TOUCH' or Dim Mak.
On the one side we have the complete sceptic who says that there is absolutely nothing to the age old argument while the other side argues that old masters were capable of killing an opponent from a distance! Or being able to just touch someone on the shoulder for example and have him or her die a few hours or days later. The truth lies somewhere between these two arguments with both sides not really aware of or ever having experienced the true application of the Dim Mak points.
Being one who has experienced such phenomenon as the dim mak death touch I feel I am justified in writing this article, I have had my left arm immobilised by a finger strike to a small intestine acupuncture point between my shoulder blades and only acupuncture treatment and tui an (Chinese massage) could bring my numb arm back. I do not believe that such techniques of delayed death touch or hurting from a distance exist, or if they ever did have long been forgotten or have just required too much work to accomplish. I know that there are certain points on the human body which when struck with a medium powered strike will cause great injury. Sometimes the delay can be a couple of seconds but no more. I had a chap who is quite famous in the U.S. and who has performed 'lab experiments' in the death touch, 'touch me' (well it was an experiment!) having told me that I would start to vomit the next morning. Three years later I am still waiting. However, I was struck on the back of the left shoulder in the scapular region once by one of my many teachers and my arm was put out of action for two weeks and it was only a one finger jab as I have already stated. I have also experienced having one of my opponents think that his lungs had packed it in because I struck him in a 'lung' point just between the nipples with a downward strike.
Although I do not believe in any mystical delayed dim mak death touch, that which is able to kill a few days later by stopping the flow of Qi, there is however a purely physical way of causing death a few days later. And so in this way I guess one could say that there is a delayed death touch but not for the reasons that most mystics like to say.
There are for instance certain points on the human body that will cause death a time later after being struck with the initial strike not causing much pain. There is a point about 1/2 an inch to the front of the top of the ear, which is the thinnest part of a person's head. If this point is struck, it will cause a small artery just under the skull to break. This will not cause any immediate damage and the person will be able to continue fighting, even if somewhat sore. But, after about three days the broken artery will cause death by filling up the brain with blood and it is the pressure build up that kills.
So, as an after thought, I would say that there are certain physical points that will cause death at a later stage but it is purely scientific and nothing magical.
So what is a Taiji expert doing writing about such dangerous practices as the dim mak death touch? Not many people know that the same person who is attributed, (rightly or wrongly) as to having invented the first Taiji is also attributed as to having invented the first death touch or 'striking the vital points'. Chang Shang-Feng, that almost mystical character who has had so much attributed to him, (even taking on 200 Mongolian soldiers and beating them!) was the first to use the hitting the points practice so it is obvious that this art is an integral part of one's Taiji training.
When I say the Chang Shang-Feng invented the art, it was not without help. He did this in conjunction with two famous acupuncturists of the time who gave him the knowledge of points on the body, which could be used not only for healing but also for killing.
I too have collaborated with one of this country's most senior acupuncturists, Chris Madden, probably the most advanced person in this field, the one to whom all of the others come to ask how to do it.
I spoke at length to Chris Madden who was able to verify many of the so called death points as being important acupuncture points, in fact some that are 'forbidden points', never to be needled. And of course it is these points that the martial artists will be concerned. Chris prefers to call this art 'striking the acupuncture points' rather than death touch or dim mak as he feels that these names should be left to the movies.
I have known which points to strike and how to strike them but have never known why! Or more importantly how to fix up what I have done, Chris gave me some of the answers. For instance, why did the lung point mentioned earlier have to be struck in a downward motion with a loose fist or palm? Or why do many of the others have to be struck with an upward motion or a drilling motion etc. The answer is that many of these points require that energy be either 'put in ' or 'pulled out' and in performing a certain strike, one is able to do either putting or pulling.
Now we most of us have heard that at certain times, certain points are much more vulnerable than others are. This is true, for instance the lung point between the nipples must be struck between about 2 and 3 am! In order for it to have the desired effect for not much effort, however, it will have a great effect at any time. Any of the vital points will have a great effect even if struck at the wrong time but much more force is necessary at these times. The reason is that at certain times one's life-force or Qi is circulating around certain acupuncture meridians and if struck at the right time, will cause the associated organ to become ill by stopping the flow or greatly reducing it thus reducing the flow of life-force to the whole body. If a certain point is struck at such times then the associated organ will receive much more irritation resulting in great damage to the organ. Of course if the life-force is stopped then death occurs instantly.
I will cover a question and answer session with Chris Madden later with a few photos to demonstrate how to strike the vital points etc. NB Photos to be added!
I have written about this often taboo subject and Chris Madden has agreed to open it up so to speak because nowadays more and more martial artists are experimenting with different strikes to different points and rather than the old 'but you can't give everyone this information' I have gone with, ' much better to bring those points to everyone's attention so that less damage will occur in the dojo through ignorance. Chris Madden also agrees with my reasons whereas at an earlier time he would never have revealed these points to everyone fearing their misuse. But nowadays, better great knowledge than a little in ignorance.
Discussion Between Erle Montaigue and Chris Madden
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Chris, most people's knowledge of dim mak is that one is able to just walk up to someone and tap them on a certain point with one finger to render that person unconscious or dead a few days later etc. It's a whole lot more complicated than that isn't it"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Sure as hell is. Because it's all based upon the acupuncture theory, which involves a thorough knowledge of the circulation of the Qi. And what are known as the dim mak points are really only acupuncture points, most of which are used every day by the practising acupuncturist without causing death. With many of the points it's a matter of picking the appropriate one for the particular person that you're attacking and using it at the appropriate time with the right technique. For example some of the points must either have energy or Qi either put in or taken out to either heal or damage that point and it's associated organ. Whether you want these points to be dangerous or not depends upon what you do with them. If you drain the energy from a vital organ like the heart then you can leave a person with very long-term problems.
Other points you want to put, I guess what you'd call, well the Chinese call Xie Qi, which means 'evil energy' in. For instance if you noticed that your opponent was very red in the face indicating high blood pressure and great anger, what you'd want to do is to pump them up a little bit more so you'd use a technique that would inject Qi. That involves knowledge of the direction of flow of the Qi through the meridians.
So it's all an extension of Chinese medical theory, it's not any different. Anyone with sufficient acupuncture education could figure out which were the death points but then they need on top of that the martial arts training to know the correct techniques and to gain the necessary power and accuracy to use. I suppose somebody could figure them out if they'd had a lot of training in Chinese massage (tui-na) because you learn then to either put Qi in or pull it out.
It's not secret knowledge, it's not forbidden knowledge, it's just a combination of a couple of different sorts of knowledge that are readily available"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "So what you're saying basically is that it's an understanding of acupuncture combined with martial ability, it's not really like, to go down to the nearest dim mak school and learn death touch but rather one must learn basic acupuncture and combine it with martial arts"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Some people promote the idea that you can do this sort of thing as a separate art but from the point of view of responsibility for a start, if you can only hit someone on the point, that can be really dangerous to them, you should really know how to reverse the effect"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "IN reversing the effect of a dim mak attack is it as simple as for instance if one drains some Qi from a certain meridian then should one put some in to reverse it?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Sometimes you do it that way, sometimes you use a parallel point on the opposite side of the body. If somebody had been struck on an acupuncture point deliberately or accidentally and it was causing long-term effects, I might use points in totally different parts of the body depending upon how far the effects had gone on. Because all of the internal organs are interconnected they all balance each other and once one of them gets out of balance a lot of others can follow. So you'd have to work back using a very sophisticated knowledge of Chinese medicine"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "In order to either put energy in or pull it out, one must know which way the Qi flows through the body, is it a matter of for instance knowing that the heart Qi flows a certain way so you strike it in the opposite direction to cause damage?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Yes, that's correct. More so on the meridians that are on the peripherals like the arms etc. There are points where you can readily render somebody unconscious by striking or squeezing points on the forearm there are half a dozen or so points on the forearm alone. It's a matter of knowing the correct direction in which to either strike or apply pressure and in fact with those points it would be more like applying pressure. A lot of points too, particularly when you see the death points listed in many karate books have a long term effect simply because of the physical trauma they cause rather than any arcane mystery like some of them over the ribs area, you'll end up with a ruptured liver or a leaking spleen"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "So many of them are purely physical rather than the old story of touching a certain point and having that point slowly close day by day until no more Qi is able to flow causing death some days later"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "From my knowledge of Chinese medicine I can't quite see how that would work. You could say that for example the Qi circulation of that particular part would become unbalanced and as the days go by that unbalance becomes wider and wider until eventually the whole thing falls down.
Essentially, the human body couldn't have been built to be that frail because we keep on bashing ourselves on points each day and there are all sorts of mechanisms within our body that keep re-balancing and re-harmonising. So it takes a very specific and deliberate and quite potent change to lead to death. It could happen by accident but it would be a million to one accident. That's why precision of technique is what the internal martial arts concentrates on developing. And a thorough knowledge of bodily Qi systems are essential otherwise nothing will happen except the person might get a bruise or a broken rib"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Power is a definite factor isn't it, how much or how little or is there any time during the day when certain techniques will work to a greater effect than others do"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "You still have to use power at any time or point. Even if you're using the points on the forearm that I mentioned earlier, if you're using finger pressure on those, it has to be very significant pressure. We use exactly those same points using lesser pressure for treating all sorts of problems, so you need to be precisely in position doing the technique in precisely the right direction with a very large amount of force"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Are there certain times when less force would produce the same effect?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "There are certain times when you apparently don't have to use that much force, some points will be sensitive at all times of the day while at certain times they will be extremely sensitive and will respond very quickly.
It's extraordinarily dangerous to practice some of these techniques because if you do happen to get them right and you don't have the knowledge of how to correct it, for example there's this point on the forearm where you could easily make someone fall down"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Where is that?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Two inches up from the inside of the wrist in the middle. It's quite easy to make someone collapse. It weakens the whole diaphragm, which is the centre of one's strength. But if you do that light heatedly, that person will stay unwell for two to three years afterward. Because that point, used in that way causes an energy disorder in all of the internal organs. Unless you know how to reverse it. I do know of instances in Sydney where martial artists who do have both of these forms have rendered someone unconscious and then they've revived them and said come and see me tomorrow and then given them acupuncture and herbs. See Photo No.1/. For the Nei Gwan point on the wrist. No.2 and 3 for the application and No.4 for how to fix it"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "The delayed death touch, what are your views"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "It is possible, I mean one can have a delayed death touch just through mechanical means. If you strike someone on the temple, there's a very thin sheet of bone under which is an artery above the brain and that can get a pinhole in it that leaks very slowly and three to four days you can die.
It would take an enormous amount of sophisticated knowledge because the body has it's own checks and balances and it can correct most things. It's not going to be the case of somebody walking past you in a bus and gently tapping you on the shoulder and wandering off. It's going to be a case of, in a fight being struck in a certain point causing enough damage to your body energy for the effect to build up over a period of days. So yes, it's theoretically quite possible for that to happen. It would be possible for someone to eventually develop enough skill to be able to strike in such a way that it would be three to four days before someone actually died from the strike.
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Why? They must be a real shit to want to do that!"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Yea, why? The bugger is likely to come back in 24 hours with a shotgun, do you in and the die himself three days later. So it's a pretty stupid thing to try and cultivate. Where are you going to practice this! Where are you going to learn them and perfect them?"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "So is there a safe way of practising these points on your friends? Perhaps using little pressure but you know the point is working because it really hurts?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "You wouldn't even want to strike even that hard. You'd need to be really confident in the technique. You need to practice accuracy only. With contact but just the very lightest contact. Training without contact teaches you to miss. Just touching and nothing else. It is quite a simple matter of using a chest protector and having yellow dots placed on the areas of the vital points to gain this accuracy"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "How accurate? Within an inch or half inch? There's an old Chinese saying that says, "it takes three lifetimes to learn dim mak"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Probably takes three lifetimes because people keep getting killed in the middle of training. You need to be accurate to within a quarter or an eighth of an inch and with the direction of your blow exactly right"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "If, for instance there is a point on the chest and if you struck it with the whole fist area, would that have the same effect as an accurate point shot?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "It tends to dissipate the effect and then you'd only get the purely physical effect of hitting someone in the chest, which can be quite devastating in itself anyway, but not the full thing with the point. You'd use maybe finger techniques or one-knuckle techniques as in the hooked palm from Taiji etc. Although some of them are very effective using palm strikes but incredible accuracy and direction is necessary. See Photo No. 5 for the chest point which has to be struck in a downward motion after perhaps the block No.6 and 7 for the for the cure"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Are there any other points that aren't actually associated with acupuncture"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "All of the points are associated with acupuncture. There are 365 major points, which the average acupuncturist is reasonably familiar with, but in fact there are more than 2000 points on the body. And all of these points which are secret and forbidden fighting points show up somewhere in the many acupuncture textbooks"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "There are certain acupuncture points that are forbidden to needle aren't there, why?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Difficult to say really. Needling is not the only way to treat an acupuncture point; you can use finger pressure or moxibustion. Some of the points are forbidden to needle because it's just a ridiculous point to stick a needle, like in a nipple for example. Some of them are now forbidden that weren't in the past, there used to be treatment for cataracts in the eye where-by the needle would be put right into the eyeball and the needle would be heated. It's a bit better to have some anaesthetic and a little bit of surgery for something like that.
Yes they are all acupuncture points but some require an extensive knowledge of Chinese medicine"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "When someone is struck in a lung point for instance, it makes them feel like they've been kicked in the guts even though they might have been struck on the upper back, is this the same for all of the organs?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "As I said before, for instance the one on the wrist will cause a person to feel as though they haven't got any strength in the middle of their body, they can't resist"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "What sort of a point is that?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "That belongs to a meridian called the pericardium meridian (pericardium is the protective sac around the heart). See Photos 1 through to 4. It's a special point that works on the lungs and the pericardium and the heart. So it just empties all the Qi out of the top of the body. The effects vary sometimes, for instance there's a point in the middle of the shoulder blade which when struck will leave the arm numb for quite some time afterward. That works just simply by blocking the flow of Qi in the meridian, so some of those lesser techniques where you just maybe want to immobilise somebody would work by mechanically blocking the flow of energy in the meridian. See Photo No.8 for the point, No.9 to block an attack, which could then be turned into an arm lock with a palm strike to the point. PHOTO NO.10. Just the tip of the outside of the small finger is used in this case to cure such an attack, PHOTO NO.11. This is a small intestine point too sure the small intestine point attack on the scapular"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "So that could be a colon meridian or a lung meridian or any of those which go down the forearm?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Yes, this one is the small intestine meridian in this case and that runs down the forearm"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "Perhaps we should show some of these points on the arms in photos. Because I have visions of martial artists hammering away at each others forearms breaking bones because they are unable to find the correct points"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Yea, the points on the forearm, wrist and elbow are very useful because often fights can be stopped before they start just by immobilising the attacker. For instance, just before the confrontation actually comes to blows when he has just pushed you on the chest, if you can just reach in and grab his elbow and drop him on the ground, he'll think twice about getting up, feeling a bit weak and shaky all over, you've stopped it at the sensible point"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "What is that point?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "That's a heart meridian point in the area of the elbow at the end of the elbow crease on the inside of the arm. See Photo No. 12 for this point, No.13 and 14 for the technique"
Erle asks: About Dim Mak "What's the Chinese name for that meridian?"
Chris answers: Dim Mak Death Touch "Buggered if I know!
Erle replies: About Dim Mak "That's a good name!"
Just after this interview Chris madden, who lives just down the road from me in the Blue Mountains had an opportunity to experience 'hidden death touch' a technique where-by a 2 ft. snake of an unknown variety but which looks bloody frightening, steals into one's 'Old Leura Dairy' where one is living and secrets itself somewhere in one's bedroom waiting to strike scaring the living daylights out of even the most experienced Chinese doctor. In these cases it is always better to call in the expert in these matters, the local Taiji combat person who very gingerly moves bookracks and beds to search said secretor out. The martial artist gives an unholy yell and some verbal abuse when a piece of black rubber is dropped down in front. We didn't find the snake, he must have known of my prowess as a martial artist!